Stakeholders and traditional rulers across the nine States of the Niger Delta region have urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Akpabio to develop new approach for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to train and empower youths of the region in the bid to fight poverty, unemployment and criminality in the region.
The stakeholders, made up of civil society groups, youth activists, politicians and traditional rulers after a one-day deliberation on the way forward for the region under the chairmanship of Mr Onyema Omenuwa noted that instead of the purported presidential directive to the NDDC against the training and empowerment of youths in the Niger Delta region, noted that empowerment of youths in the region would allow Human Capacity Development in order to reduce the peoples sufferings, unemployment and youths involvement in criminality across the region.
According to them the recent poverty and employment status in calls for government assistance through youths entrepreneurship, empowerment initiatives like small-scale retailing, crop and animal farming, artisanship, information and communication technology aimed at reducing poverty.
Omenuwa in his remarks stated that the global coronavirus pandemic and lockdown further placed millions of people across the region in poverty.
He argued that the people need government assistance and urged Buhari to direct Akpabio to ensure that the NDDC urgently embark on human capacity development in order to bridge the poverty gap in the region.
“As stakeholders in the events leading to the establishment of the NDDC, we know the pains, bloodshed, sacrifices and tortuous journey which led to the peace resolutions that brought about the establishment of the various intervention agencies particularly the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)”.
“Youths unemployment is a major development challenge with implications for conflict in the Niger Delta. The oil producing states of the Niger Delta Region have some of the highest levels of youths unemployment in Nigeria (e.g. about 38.4% in Bayelsa and 27.9% in Rivers) compared to the national average of 21.1%. Like other parts of the world, youth’s unemployment in the Niger Delta is driven by demographic, educational and economic factors”.
“Two-thirds of the population of the Niger Delta is below the age of 30. With pervasive poverty and unemployment in the region, many youths are such as armed robbery, oil bunkering, prostitution and hostage taking for ransom. The persistent tension in the region further encouraged more youths to prefer quick gains from crime and conflict over longer term and frequently unavailable returns to investments in education and training. Youth restiveness and persistent conflict in the Niger Delta hurt both the national economy and the local people,” Omenuwa added.